An eyesore for years is set to be removed as plans to demolish the former Superior Mills building in Chilhowie moves forward.
The abandoned structure covers most of a block of Lee Highway across from the fire department and next door to a popular local restaurant.
Removal of the building was one of the main reasons the town received a million dollar grant for revitalization that will begin a phased project to improve Main Street and its environs. Planning began several years ago and this past week a bid was approved to tear down the building in the first phase of the downtown revitalization project.
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The work was estimated to cost about $150,000 but the lowest of four bids came in at $238,250 from D.H. Griffin Companies of Bristol. To lower the cost for this project, the Department of Housing and Community Development has agreed to allow concrete slabs and adjacent asphalt at the building to be removed by the downtown revitalization project contractor Boring Contractors Inc., of Abingdon, lowest bidder for that part of the project.
Boring Contractors bid for the downtown revitalization project, with the additional cost of concrete slab and asphalt removal at the old mill building at $13,200, is $488,130. The work was estimated to cost about $550,505 so there was room to add that cost and remove it from the mill building demolition project.
Removal of these items from the demolition project resulted in a decrease in the bid price of $40,820 so the resulting bid from D.H. Griffin Companies is $197,430. The town will secure the additional funding for the project through DHCD restoration monies and Brownfields grant money for removal of hazardous materials.
Town Manager John Clark said the contractor has 180 days to remove the old mill building. The building’s owners have agreed to remove the debris to a site several miles from town.
Both companies – D.H. Griffin and Boring Contractors – were approved by Hurt & Proffitt, the town’s engineering firm for the revitalization project.
Boring Contractors was chosen for the streetscape portion of the downtown revitalization project involving sidewalks, street lighting, storm drain improvements, line boring under the railway, site restoration and other features.
There were no bids for the façade work on the 12 Main Street buildings so that project will be rebid this summer. The revitalization project is working with building owners to add attractive façades to their buildings as aesthetic improvements.
“This delay may be a blessing in disguise,” said Clark of the lack of bids on the façade part of the revitalization project bid, “in that this will allow the contractor doing the Streetscape Division I portion of the contract (Boring Contractors) to get a good start on his work and not have to work around the Division II façade contractor(s) as much.”
As the revitalization project moves ahead in this area of Lee Highway, another project is looming just north in the green space below the old library.
The town has been seeking grant funding for establishment of a farmers market shelter where the farmers market sets up each Thursday afternoon. Clark said he and Clerk/Treasurer Marlene Henderson discovered when talking to Rural Development that there are some grant funds available this cycle. They were informed of potentially $100,000 in grant funds available through Rural Business Development and worked with the Mount Rogers Planning District Commission and The Lane Group to prepare a preliminary application by April 30.
Council approved the project at last week’s meeting so Clark will be contacting stakeholders of the site, including the Chilhowie Community Apple Festival, for opinions and the county board of supervisors to seek an exemption to the deed conveyance to allow a structure at that part of the property.
The complete application for the RBD grant funds is due by June 30.